Pass This Around

Jax is sort of a family tradition.

Not my family, per se -but my ex in-laws and their side of the family has celebrated their major milestones, including my kids’ major milestones, there for 50-60 years.

And so I watched this:

To continue one of Mr. Kozlak’s point – he may be able to make it at 50% capacity in the short term. The long term is more dubious.

So – do the people in the “shut it down until there’s a vaccine” crowd think that a government can survive with half its taxpayers any more than a business can survive with half its customers?

I’d love some “prog” to explain that in terms that don’t involve “unicorns descending from the skies with chests of gold coins on their backs”.

I’m still waiting.

Shot In The Dark: Today’s News, Over A Month Ago

With all due respect to Professor Glenn Reynolds – who may have done more than any single person to launch this blog, a third of a lifetime ago – I was observing that three of the biggest killers of the Covid plague, density, transit, bureaucracy and censorship, well over a month back.

But they all deserve repeating.


The coronavirus has been much more deadly in places like New York City or Boston than in rural settings. As demographer Joel Kotkin notes, Los Angeles has done much better than other big cities, because it’s less dense. “L.A.’s sprawling, multi-polar urban form, by its nature, results in far less ‘exposure density’ to the contagion than more densely packed urban areas, particularly those where large, crowded workplaces are common and workers are mass-transit-dependent…


Kotkin mentions mass transit, and an MIT study found that NYC subways were a ”major disseminator” of the coronavirus in New York. This is unsurprising: New York City subways are crowded, poorly ventilated and filthy. The city is only just now starting to clean them every night. (A bit late.) Cars come with built-in social-distancing: With a car, you’re riding in a metal and glass bubble with filtered air. Subways and buses, not so much. Whether this virus sounds the ”death knell” for mass transit or not, people will be far more reluctant to ride packed vehicles in the future.

Minnesota’s favorite, Bureaucracy:

Early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, which raised the bar for testing requirements. As a result, hospitals and universities faced significant barriers to getting alternative tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 


The Chinese government censored reports of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, punished doctors who talked about it and lied to the world for weeks — while allowing flights from the infected area to carry people from Wuhan all over the world. Now some authoritarian types are claiming that the spread of virus misinformation on social media offers a new justification for censorship of ordinary people.

And let’s not forget perhaps the most insidious form of censorship of all – the notion that “science” is is an orthodox canon of knowledge bestowed upon the proles by high priests of knowledge, more like the medieval Catholic Church than a framework for relentless questioning and skepticism. That – and the media and social media establishment’s efforts to stymie dissent – could wind up being the biggest killers of people and destroyers of freedom of all.

Surprising Nobody (Who’s Been Paying Attention At All)

“Unexpectedly”, Minnesota’s neighbors – well, at least the ones run by people who came up through the world of business, rather than public employment or the non-profit/industrial complex – are kicking Minnesota’s passive-aggressive tush at dealing with Coronavirus.

You could look at it in terms of deaths per million (South Dakota is 1/3 Minnesota’s rate; North Dakota, half). You could look at it in terms of ICU utilization (all are doing all right, but it’s interesting to imagine how much better the lower-density states would be doing but for the ravages of Obamacare on rural healthcare).

Oh, yeah – and testing?

Which Governor Walz, for about the tenth time in six weeks put out there as the dispositive factor in re-opening, notwithstanding the fact that Minnesota’s bureaucracy is no better at un-flattening the curve with tests than it is at managing its budget?

Oh, what do you think? Numbers as of yesterday.

North Dakota 54,330
South Dakota 22,009
Nebraska 21,253
Iowa 21,206
Wisconsin 17,695
Minnesota 17,625

Bear in mind, progs in the audience – this is in terms of tests per million.

The businesspeople – who largely happen to be Republicans, but that’s more an effect than a cause – are doing the job better.

Suppose Minnesota will learn the lesson?

Just One Life

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Governor Walz killed a man today.  He won’t be prosecuted for it. He’s
safe behind papers and attorneys and statutes.  But the man is dead by
Governor Walz’ act, same as if he’d done the deed in person.

Governor Walz killed a health care worker today.  The dead man was laid
off from a hospital.  They couldn’t afford to keep him. They were losing
too much money since the Governor banned non-emergency medical treatment
to keep hospital beds open for the surge of Covid patients that never
came.  But for the shut-down, the dead man would have been at work,
caring for patients, doing what he loved.

Governor Walz killed a father today.  The dead man was married, with
children ranging from 3 to 9 years old.  His wife is still in shock.
Family is staying with her.  The older ones are quiet, trying to
understand.  The little ones hear: “Daddy’s gone to Heaven” and ask:
“Yes, but when is he coming home?”  They don’t understand why he’s never
coming home.  None of us do. There will be no visitation, no memorial. 
They are illegal.

Governor Walz killed a son today.  The dead man’s parents still live in
the house he grew up in.  The father, in his 90’s, crying, asking, “Why
him, Lord?  Why not me? He had so much to live for.” The Governor claims
he had to shut down everything to save lives. But the lives saved are
those like the father – old, sitting at home, waiting to die – which are
never weighed against the lives lost.

Governor Walz killed a brother today. He was the smartest of us all: honors graduate, advanced degrees, quick with a quip but heart as big as the world. He was my baby brother.

Joe Doakes

My condolences to Joe’s family – to say the least.

Pass it around.

The Turning Point?

The media and the Walz administration – pardon, largely, the redundancy – is waving around a bunch of polls by a bunch of left-leaning pollsters showing overwhelming support for keeping the state’s economy shut down until…um, they’ll get back to you on that.

I’ve noticed that an awful lot of those supporting a vapor-tight lockdown until (insert yet another set of Walz Administration goals – I have a hard time keeping up with ’em) have steady incomes that aren’t going anywhere. State workers, employees of schools and universities, non-profiteers in sectors with revenues that aren’t going anywhere.

But all that might change soon. From yesterday’s Governor’s presser:

Gov. Tim Walz says he’s not ready to rule anything out _ including layoffs and furloughs of state employees.

I’m gonna suspect that starts some DFLers thinking critically about risk aversion.

Civil Disobedience

Saint Paul barbershop, facing a life-or-death business decision, chooses life:

In the shadows of the State Capitol, King Milan Barbershop had, for the first time in seven weeks, its lights on. Milan Dennie is the owner.

“It’s my livelihood,” Dennie said. “I’ve been sitting here coming up with strategies and plans on how to open up and do it correctly.”

His customers outside had at least two things in common: The plea to reopen businesses, and the need for a haircut.

For two hours, Dennie enforced social distancing and sanitizing as a way to prove he’s serious for the 16 clients he served.

Government chooses…

…well, not “death”.  

Let’s go for “mindless, unquestioning acquiescence to even the most arbitrary decision of The State”

The 17th person to walk in was St. Paul police.

“We just stepped outside and he talked to me,” Dennie said. “He said he feels what I’m going through, but the order is in place right now.”

Technically, the state can shut him down and fine Dennie up to $25,000. He’s aware he could lose his shop by this decision to reopen. He’s convinced he’d lose it by staying closed.

When the doors did close, donations came in along with support. Some from fellow barbers who are also stressed from not providing.

“Everybody keeps saying, ‘File this, file that.’ You file everything you want to, until your hands hurt,” Burnsville barbershop owner Nile House said. “You can keep typing til your hands are aching, but you’re not going to get it because it’s not coming.”

When people stop respecting what government does, you can expect people to start working around, rather than with, it.

Government Is The Things We Do Together – Stupidly And Arbitrarily

A Long Lake restaurant tries to put on a drive in movie, complete with take-out food with all the socially-distance, plague-aware trimmings.

The state shut them down:

Birch’s On the Lake has lost around 70% of its regular revenue while doing take-out only during the stay at home order.

The owner came up with a plan to do a family night at the drive-in outside the Long Lake restaurant.

“It sold out in a day,” Burton Joseph said.

The plan was to hand out notes to customers explaining the safety rules: stay in their cars, maintain distance, and no alcohol. They would be allowed to call in an order for take-out to eat in their cars.

On Monday state officials told Joseph they could not have the event.

“If we’re coming up with the ideas to keep everyone safe at this point I feel like they deserve to give someone a chance,” Joseph said.

Yet again: we have a government run by a man who’s never had a significant job in the private sector, at the head of an administration that has nothing but contempt for businesspeople…

…telling the people who actually have the interests of not only their business, but the customers and communities that are their livelihood, and who have greatest stake in providing creative solutions to our mutual problems, how to behave.

This is the sort of thing that delegitimizes government authority, and leaves you with a Ukraine, a Belanus, a Venezuela.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

King Walz the First angrily denounced right-wing kook websites speculating that the newest plan to placate the coronavirus involved sacrificing virgins.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Our plan is simply to have Joe Biden sniff their hair. It has been amply demonstrated that no person has died from coronavirus while having their hair sniffed by the President-Nearly-Elect. The plan has worked, works perfectly, continues to work, and anyone who questions or criticizes it is a science denier.”

King Walz did not specify how virgins would be selected, or their virginity verified, before being sent to the undisclosed location where Candidate Biden is in self-imposed quarantine with a small harem.

From the Capital, Joe Doskes, reporting.

In related news, the State of Minnesota Heath Economist neither confirmed nor denied that his office uses sheep entrails for “modeling”.

The Real Victim Of This Whole Crisis

New York City – all five boroughs – have been the hardest hit part of the US, and in some ways possibly the free world, by Covid.

The most densely packed city in the country and among the densest in the world, dependent on mass transit, jammed into tightly packed offices and restaurants and bodegas and bars and stacked atop each other at levels of density that send a tingle up the Met Council’s leg, the city would seem to be clear if anecodotal evidence that this plague’s greatest friend is density.

But in a city with 40% of the nation’s Covid deaths, Yahoo News – which is in constant combat with “Buzzfeed” for “most effortlessly left-biased “news” source” – has found the biggest victim of all:

Today, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress — known simply as AOC — owns another distinction, this one far grimmer: She represents the nation’s most devastated hot zone of the coronavirus outbreak.

New York’s 14th Congressional District, which includes the working-class immigrant clusters of the Bronx and Queens, has had 19,200 coronavirus cases as of April 30, more than all of Manhattan, despite having almost 1 million fewer people. Residents of the neighborhoods of Corona and North Corona in her district — the names are an eerie coincidence — have had more coronavirus cases than any ZIP code in the country.

Ocasio-Cortez, 30, knows many who have died, as well as others who were sickened with the virus, or left hungry or jobless. She sends notes and makes calls to as many surviving family members as she can, serving as a kind of legislative first responder. But it can be hard to keep up.

No – it goes downhill from there. I’d pullquote more, but then I’d have that “vomit” taste in my mouth all day at work.

It’s good to know the media’s got its priorities straight.

Safety First

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

King Walz the First announced new emergency measures to combat the coronavirus.

Effective immediately, anyone entering a store to purchase groceries must stand on one foot and flap their arms like a chicken. The evidence proves that no person has died from the virus while doing that; therefore, it is the only sure guarantee of safety. That, plus washing your hands,

wearing your mask, and avoiding religious worship services, will save your life and the lives of others.”

When pressed for the details, King Walz’ press secretary admitted there was no scientific evidence flapping your arms like a chicken would work, but it would amuse the governor and therefore was mandatory. Failure would be prosecuted by $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

Republicans in the state legislature were too embarrassed to seek to overturn the order. Instead, they were working on a bill to repeal the crime of adultery. “We have to get our priorities straight,” the Minority Leader said.

Joe Doakes, reporting live, from the capitol.

It’s only satire if it’s pretty much not true.

Press Conference

SCENE: THE PRESS natters away, focusing their cameras and exchanging black-market hair stylists, waiting for a conference with POLITICS, GOVERNMENT and REALITY.

Shortly, the three enter the room and move to the podium. POLITICS – a dapper, 30-something man with CEO hair and a perfectly cut suit, steps to the microphone.

POLITICS: Welcome, and thank you all for coming out to this joint press conference. We’re going try to take this opportunity to clarify our mutual, cooperative response to the Covid virus in Minnesota. Before we take questions, I’d just like to say “We’re all One Minnesota, and we’re all in this together. (). Anything to add?”

(GOVERNMENT, a morbidly obese woman in a frizzy red “Karen” hairdo and a slightly long in the tooth pants suit, sticks her head awkwardly in front of POLITICS to get to the mike).

GOVERNMENT: I’d just like to add, that not are we all not in this together and practicing a second or subsequent Minnesota is subject to reporting, citation and arrest.

POLITICS: Thanks, Government! Anything to add, Reality?

(REALITY, a slovenly man resembling a larger, fatter Danny DiVito, wearing an ill-fitting red track suit and carrying a Jimmy Johns sandwich whose paper wrapper he’s been rolling down like the skin of a banana, nudges himself to the mike.

REALITY: This process has remorselessly worked its say down to a series of haves and have nots. (Shrugs)

POLITICS: Thanks. Again, we’re all in complete agreement.

(PRESS nods as one)

POLITICS: Any questions?

PRESS (in unison): So when can MInnesota businesses return to normal?

POLITICS: We’ve developed, in cooperation with Government and Reality, a 12 step process of steps and levers that will be the red lines leading to re-opening. Care to elaborate, Government?

GOVERNMENT: Yes. I’d just like to say, I’ve never had a job outside the public sector, and I don’t actually trust businesses to do anything but exploit the people.

REALITY: You’ve got people who are neither scientists nor businesspeople making decisions for and on behalf of both. If you expect anything other than a glorified junior high school production of West Wing, you probably watched way too much of the actual West Wing.

POLITICS: Thanks. As I said, One Minnesota. Next question?

PRESS: What does the science tell us?

POLITICS: We are using the best data science tells us.

GOVERNMENT: Anyone using or repeating information from scientists not on the approved list will be facing serious consequences.

REALITY: The “science” is being applied via a layer of sociology, and at best everyone is winging it and nobody has a clue what the future holds.

POLITICS: Thanks. We are all in this together. Next question?

PRESS: What are your current preconditions for getting back to normal.

POLITICIANS: Well, obviously, sufficient testing.

GOVERNMENT: We have chosen the figure of 20,000 tests a day, for no reason that we choose to make available to you.

REALITY: And she could say 1,000, or 10,000, or eleventy-teen million, because after a month of yammering about testing, the daily tests performed are creeping along in the low four figures a day, and there is no visible indication that is changing, or for that matter that it’s going to matter, if indeed it turns out this epidemic has been active in the population since January.

POLITICS: Minnesota strong. Next question?

THE PRESS: Any others?

POLITICS: Standard public health practice would be to do contact tracing.

GOVERNMENT: Therefore, all MInnesotans must keep a list of all their contacts.

REALITY: This is pure fairy dust. Contact tracing is incredibly labor intensive work even for a disease with a fairly predictable means of transmission, like AIDS, and which spreads from symptomatic people, like Ebola. This is neither. Someone could unknowingly pass it on to hundreds of people before they knew they were sick. Contact tracing could be the CIvilian Conservation Corps project of the new millennium, employing hundreds of thousands of people, and we’d still never get it all done.

PRESS: How about a vaccine?

POLITICS: Our best and brightest are working 24/7 to try to develop one.

GOVERNMENT: We will be locked down until a vaccine is developed and tested, however long it takes.

REALITY: (Tosses the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, talks while chewing) Nobody has successfully developed a vaccine for a corona virus, and even if this is the first, it’ll take years – and if we shut down the entire economy nobody will be able to pay for the vaccine, much less developing it.

POLITICS: Last question?

PRESS: How about re-opening businesses?

POLITICS: We’ll re-open businesses according to the plan.

GOVERNMENT: And anyone not adhering to the common-sense, scientific plan will face consequences.

REALITY: (stifles a burp as he rumples up his now-empty Jimmy Johns bag) Look, the policy is utterly capricious today. There is literally no reason to keep a Walmart or a Menards open but shut down a Vape shop or a guitar store. There is literally no reason they can’t follow the same restrictions. Restaurants and bars and barber shops are more complicated, but do you honestly think a business owner is less suited to see to their own survival than… (nudges head toward GOVERNMENT).

POLITICS Well, thank you all for coming out. Remember – we’re one Minnesota…

PRESS: (as one) We’re One MInnesota…

POLITICS: And we’re all in this together.

PRESS: And we’re all in this together.

GOVERNMENT: Depart the room in an orderly fashion in the reverse order you came in, via the door you came though…


A friend of the blog emails:

My child is not going to public school. Now that we are doing home based learning, the school continues to provide the excellent education we expected. We have a high quality teacher who gives a daily schedule that has my child doing educational work, physical activity related to the daily lesson, and 2 daily live meetings online with the entire class. This is how I envision the home school program should look. Advanced grade levels at this school are doing online group work in addition to the daily meetings with the entire class. This school is taking learning seriously. But, they were before being sent home, too.

My colleagues who have children in public schools have a different story. They tell me all their kids get is “busy work.” They tell me their kids are no longer learning anything and that home based learning “just doesn’t work for public schools.” “It’s a joke, really,” they tell me.

I honestly believe a percentage of the problem is the parents- they may be too busy to be involved, dealing with other family members, dealing with this economic crisis, etc. But, I also wonder if they have forgotten their own school experiences. Or how involved were they when their children were in actual school? In my view, a lot of public school is busy work. Why would their home program be any different?

I have a hunch that for kids whose notion of ‘education’ is learning from what goes on around them in life and applying their innate curiosity to the found opportunities the world is full of, this period could be a fantastic learning experience.

The public factory school model is not designed to foster that.

I’ve also heard – anecdotally, natch – that some public school parents, coming face-to-face with their kids curriculum for the first time, have been genuinely horrified at the, well, general uselessness of the whole charade.

One hopes that feeling carries through when the crisis is over.

Officer Friendly

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There’s a video of two Calumet County Wisconsin Sheriff’s deputies hassling a woman because her kids went to the neighbor’s house to play. 

In response, the Sheriff posted this message:  

The problem with both the video and the response is the attitude.  This is the kind of behavior that gets people upset at law enforcement.  

Look at the male deputy in the video.  His tone is berating.  His attitude is condescending.  His body language is aggressive.  The Sheriff says the Deputy is there to educate the mother, that the deputies were not there because of a violation of the order.  But that’s what the deputies accuse her of – violating the order by letting her kids play at the neighbor’s house. 

The male deputy’s posture and word choice is confrontational.  He doesn’t educate, he berates.  It angers me just watching it.  He did nothing to de-escalate the situation.  
The female deputy’s passive-aggressive behavior is little better.  She doesn’t educate or placate, she’s there to document the contact for future prosecution because now the mother has been warned.  And the mother was uncooperative!  That’s going on her Permanent Record!  

That is the sort of officious, snotty, condescending, infuriating behavior by petty tyrants that causes unrest, as in “unrest in the Middle East” or “another day of unrest in Northern Ireland.”  People who can’t behave professionally in customer-facing positions should find another line of work.

Let me be perfectly clear for law enforcement and other people of limited intellectual ability: I am not calling for people to shoot cops.  But if this woman had and I were on the jury, I’d vote to acquit.
Joe Doakes

There’s something about “public service” that brings the worst out of a certain type of personality – the kind wonderfully parodied by Rainn Wilson for nine years as “Dwight Schrute”.

Although this isn’t funny.

Translating “Economic Meltdown” Into The “Urban Progressive” Dialect Of English

Maybe now some of the “Shut it all down until there’s a vaccine and 50,000 tests a day” crowd will pay attention.

Trendy Warehouse District restaurant “The Bachelor Farmer” – run by Mark Dayton’s sons – is one of those places a big swathe of MInnesota’s non-profit/indurial complex was hoping to have dinner in a couple of years when the Governor lifts his “shelter in place plan”.

But no more. “Bachelor Farmer” is pining for the fjords:

It’s almost like God is providing an interpreter service for government union employees, non-profiteers and other urban progressives who feel they can ride out two years worth of shutdown: “Vape shop”, “Hair Salon” or “Small family store” goes in.

“Trendy warehouse district fine dining” comes out.

They might understand yet.

One Of The Greatest Deceptions…

…of the current crisis, is the perception that Big Left is pushing, that Covid can kill anyone, at any time.

Now, just so we’re clear: I’ve got a parent in assisted living. I’ve got people in my close circle with immune issues and serious lung issues. I was working from home before it was mandatory, and for good reason. I have people in my life who are vulnerable, and for whom Covid is most assuredly not “just like flu”.

But as to the rest of the population?

The vast majority – as in, super-super-super-majority – of those in NYC with cases serious enough to require hospitalization had more than one comorbid condition:

Health records showed that 94% of the 5,700 patients in the Northwell Health system — which has had the most patients in the country during the pandemic — had at least one disease other than COVID-19, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. 88% had more than one ailment on top of coronavirus.

It wasn’t even close to close to close:

I saw video last week of a New York hospital celebrating the release of its 750th Covid survivor. And, with all due respect for ordeal and in many cases their age, none of them looked like they’d been pictures of clean health in general Not mocking, and certainly not pretending to be a doctor – but the numbers bear out the observation.

We’re All In This Together, In One Minnesota

If you think fighting disaster with economic devastation is a bad strategery, this is what Channel 11’s weather talking head thinks of you:

And Sven? When you go on to talk about the “sacrifices we are making”, don’t tell it to social media. Go to the small businesses who are arbitrarily shuttered and tell the owners whose lives’ work is being destroyed while competing business are chugging right along, exactly how “in it together” you are with them.

I”ll wait.

Indecency Plus Blue Fragility

Governor Cuomo’s “Marie Antoinette” moment:

The Democrat fielded questions Wednesday while angry protesters outside expressed their displeasure with ongoing shutdown policies. A reporter said she spoke to many of the protesters and found them to be “regular people who are not getting a paycheck.”

“Some of them are not getting their unemployment check and they’re saying that they don’t have time to wait for all of this testing and they need to get back to work in order to feed their family,” she said, CBS News reported. “Their savings are running out. They don’t have another week. They’re not getting answers. So, their point is, the cure can’t be worse than the illness itself. What is your response to that?”

Mr. Cuomo’s response suggested that government-imposed shutdowns might exist as long as a single person was at risk of dying from the contagion.

“The illness is death,” he said. “What is worse than death? Economic hardship? Yes, very bad. Not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house — very bad. Not death. Domestic violence on the increase — very bad. Not death.”

This seems to be the tack the “shutdownists” – a term I use advisedly, as it seems to be almost a matter of religious faith among its adherents – use; the only alternative to completely shudown is mass death.

And then (with emphasis added):

The reporter countered that protesters are in an untenable position, given that they cannot pay immediate bills while simultaneously being told they cannot work.

“They can’t wait for the money,” she said. “They’re out of money.”

“They can say, ‘Unemployment insurance isn’t enough,’” the Democrat replied. “I get it. Even with the $600 check and the $1,200 check, and the unemployment benefit is not enough. I understand the economic hardship. We all feel it. The question is, ‘What do you do about it?’ And do you put public health at risk? And do you drive up the number of deaths for it, because you have no idea how to reopen now.”

Mr. Cuomo was then asked if a fundamental right to work exists if “the government can’t get [citizens] the money” they need in a timely manner.

“You want to go to work?” Mr. Cuomo replied. “Go take a job as an essential worker.”

Preferably as a dues-paying public union member, no doubt.

Joe Public Vs. Blue Fragility

“The Authorities” don’t have much faith in people. They never really have.

Before 9/11, it was the official view of “the authorities” that if a major disaster were to unfold in a Manhattan skyscraper, it’d be best to tell the people in the building to stay put and await instructions. They simply couldn’t be trusted to look out for themselves; without the firm, teutonic voice of authority, they’d rip each other to shreds trying to get through the door into the stairwell.

To the authorities, people are mindless panicky cattle.

Of course, on 9/11 the people disregarded the orders to stay put on the overhead speakers, and organized themselves and got themselves and their handicapped colleagues out of the building. Almost nobody below the impact point died in the Towers that day.

And without ignoring the panics that have ˆhappened, it’d be myopic to ignore the many times officialdom – “the authorities” – panicked first and loudest. The behavior of the people in charge of the lifeboats on the Titanic was one notable example.

The fact is, people usually – not always, usually – see to their self-preservation pretty well; since the group they are part of is often an integral part of that self-preservation, groups of everyday schnooks tend to self-organize modestly well, as well.

The best thing “authorities” can do, often, is provide useful, factual information, provide a framework for that self-organization, while seeing to the things the average schnook can’t feasiibly do; get supplies expedited, get expertise to where it’s needed and the like.

But “authorities” and “experts” have a disturbing tendency, even if they don’t panic and cause more harm than good, to go full-bore Dwight Schrute. To treat their expert status as a license to flex their power. To treat information as power – and act like they’ve got both, and know it.

I commend do you this excellent piece on “Elite Panic” – the tendency of the “authorities” to behave exactly as they fear citizens will – is a real, destructive phenomenon. And it kills people.

In this case, victims of the 1964 Anchorage Earthquake, the worst in America in modern times:

For the police, fear of public chaos outweighed, at least temporarily, concern for possible victims. Before dispatching those casually deputized citizens to keep order in the streets, the Anchorage police chief suspended the search for survivors in damaged buildings. “Arguably, the city was protecting its ruins from looters more conscientiously than it was looking for people trapped in them,” Mooallem writes.

Disaster researchers call this phenomenon “elite panic.” When authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself. They clamp down on information, restrict freedom of movement, and devote unnecessary energy to enforcing laws they assume are about to be broken. These strategies don’t just waste resources, one study notes; they also “undermine the public’s capacity for resilient behaviors.” In other words, nervous officials can actively impede the ordinary people trying to help themselves and their neighbors.

That’s exactly the phenomenon behind “Berg’s Third Law of Human Resilience” – the “authorities” never give human survivors of catastrophes enough credit. Never.

And that’s just panic, misplaced priorities and incompetence. Sometimes, outright depravity sets in:

Elite panic frequently brings out another unsavory quirk on the part of some authorities: a tendency to believe the worst about their own citizens. In the midst of the Hurricane Katrina crisis in 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin found time to go on Oprah Winfrey’s show and lament “hooligans killing people, raping people” in the Superdome. Public officials and the media credulously repeated rumors about street violence, snipers shooting at helicopters, and hundreds of bodies piled in the Superdome. These all turned out to be wild exaggerations or falsehoods (arguably tinged by racism). But the stories had an impact: Away from the media’s cameras, a massive rescue effort—made up of freelance volunteers, Coast Guard helicopters, and other first responders—was underway across the city. But city officials, fearing attacks on the rescuers, frequently delayed these operations. They ordered that precious space in boats and helicopters be reserved for armed escorts.

And whatever your view of government – from DFLer to Libertarian – you’d think getting reliable information to the people would be a priority:

Too often, the need to “avoid panic” serves as a retroactive justification for all manner of official missteps. In late March, as the coronavirus pandemic was climbing toward its crest in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to defend his record. Host Jake Tapper pressed the mayor on his many statements—as recently as two weeks earlier—urging New Yorkers to “go about their lives.” Tapper asked whether those statements were “at least in part to blame for how the virus has spread across the city.” De Blasio didn’t give an inch. “Everybody was working with the information we had,” he explained, “and trying, of course, to avoid panic.” How advising people to avoid bars and Broadway shows would have been tantamount to panic was left unexplained.

Authorities only deserve the respect they earn.

Blue Fragility, Part V

In which NPR’s On the Media, the exposed, yapping inner id of the “elite” media, #progsplains us that notwithstanding the very plain facts that about half of all Covid deaths are concentrated in one of America and the world’s most densely-populated metro areas, and that 80% are in states centered around major, densely populated metro areas, and the slowly emerging science that seems to show that Covid’s spread is closely tied to density…

…that rural red states are gonna get it, but good, because racism. Just you watch.

As predicted.

The Governor We Really Need

Bud Grant – the last person in public life who ever managed to portray Minnesotans as “tough”, with his bans on gloves and heaters on the sidelines at Vikings games in frigid Met Stadium in the dead of winter – is still at it.

Asked whether Covid gives him pause at 93, he responded:

“I’ve been through the polio epidemic … I was in the service during the War. All of those things have happened in my life, so I’m not quite as paranoid as some people might be.”


I’m more a George Halas guy – but Minnesota needs more Bud Grant.  

(Via regular commenter BossHoss)

A Bit Of Advice

Back in 2010, when the Tea Party was at high tide, there was a wave of sightings of some disturbingly racist and violent signs at Tea Party rallies. These signs got all kinds of media attention.

Thing is, when people were able to crowd-source the people carrying the signs, a huge portion of them turned out to be ringers – people from leftist groups who just happened to wind up in front of the news media with their objectionable signs. Not just a few, eitheri – there was a very high correlation.

Of course, some of the less curious members of the media just ran with it – killing the Tea Party and other obstreporous bitter clinging deplorables was just fine by them.

But before I MCed the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party rally, I made sure the organizers got the word out as publicly as possible – anyone with an off-color sign would be photographed, and publicized, and “outed” either way – but especially if they were lefty ringers bent on slandering the Tea Party.

Sounds like certain conservative groups need to re-learn this lesson.

How likely is the woman’s sign a hoax?

Is there a number over 100%?

If The Tables Were Turned, Part 56,334,631

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“Governor Walz hates Black people and wants them to die.”

You know that would be the headline, if Walz were Republican.

Shutting down the schools is resulting in kids missing class, mostly Black children.  Walz is widening the achievement gap and condemning a generation of Black children to poverty and despair. 

Shutting down business resulted in layoffs, twice as many Blacks (25%) as Whites (12%).   Walz is shifting the economic burden of the pandemic to those least able to carry it.

Governor Walz’ Stay Home order – while appearing to be race-neutral on its face – is causing disproportionately larger harm to Blacks than Whites.  That’s prima facie evidence of disparate impact racial discrimination. In a Republican administration, the media would be screaming it from the rooftops. But since Walz is a Democrat . . . .

Joe Doakes

If Joe’s scenario were happening, Black Lives Matter would be blocking the freeway…

…although I doubt most people would notice these days.

Killing The Patient To Save It

I spent a little time watching some of the local TV news and weather drones chattering about Earth Day yesterday.

I know – I forgot to celebrate it, too, right?

And the line among the various weather drones, in noting that pollution is at record lows around the planet, was simultaneously predictable and a crushing face palm;

“it just shows what people can do to Fight climate change when they set their mind to it”

Yes. When the economy slows to a record halt, vaporizing trillions of dollars in personal and institutional wealth, throwing millions/tens of millions, really, into at least short term poverty and possibly much worse, with industries shut down and hundreds of thousands of small businesses vanquished over a little more than six weeks, the air will get a little clean.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“That which is not prohibited is permitted.”

It’s the underlying principle of American law. We inherited it from English constitutional law, which goes back at least 500 years. I suspect it was also Norman law and Roman law, going back more than 2,000 years.

Certainly, there were variations. And subpopulations had restrictions, there have always been slaves or persons treated differently. Religions imposed restrictions.  The guilds had rules. But the general societal rule throughout the history of Western Civilization has been to leave individuals free to do as they please, with limited exceptions.

Until last month, when Governor Walz flipped it on its head.

Everything is banned except those few items which are permitted. Every job is banned except those deemed essential. Every activity is banned except those deemed essential. Everything is banned, except.

Hitler didn’t do it.  Lincoln didn’t do it during the civil war. None of the Caesars did it. 

I’m not sufficiently familiar with non-western Traditions to know about other nations: Mao’s China, Pharaoh’s Egypt, Stalin’s Russia, Castro’s Cuba. Maybe they were all totalitarian states with everything run by whim of the Chief, and everyone bowing and scraping subserviently.

And now Walz’ Minnesota. We still have people commenting on Internet sites, demanding that the boot remain on their faces, insisting that people should be punished for violating the edicts. “No, no; don’t give us any of that freedom, we don’t want it.”


Joe Doakes

If we are smart…

…well, I was about to say “if we, The People, are smart we’ll make damn certain our legislature puts some guardrails around the executive’s emergency power in the future”.

Of course, betting on the wisdom of the crowd usually breaks one’s heart.

But not always. Five years ago, the Second Amendment groups in Minnesota got Governor Dayton to sign a bill forbidding the government from confiscating guns under a “state of emergency”, and foreclosing it from shutting down gun shops unless literally every other store in the state was also closed.

So it can be done.

Will we do it?